Jalapeño Poppers With Smoked Pimento Cheese and Country Ham (Gluten-Free Friendly)

Jalapeño Poppers With Smoked Pimento Cheese and Country Ham

A staple of many a tailgating gathering, jalapeño poppers are pretty much as ubiquitous as queso this time of year. A bad thing? Not in the least. These bites are sure to shake up the usual equation, injecting some irresistible Southern flair into your festivities in practically no time at all.

Eschewing a breadcrumb coating and the fryer in favor of a quick pop under the broiler, they even keep things healthy. Well, healthier. After all, there’s still a generous amount of smokey cheddar, smooth cream cheese and a dab of mayo involved in the homemade pimento cheese filling. (Not a fan of spicy stuff? This piquant mix alone is just as delicious spread on crackers or scooped up with raw veggies.) I enjoy them whether wrapped in country ham or not, but if you can get your hands on a few slices of Benton’s, it definitely adds a nice punch of extra flavor. No matter what, they’ll definitely hit the spot with their savoriness and spice.

What’s your favorite snack to eat during the Super Bowl? Share yours in the comments or on Facebook.

Jalapeño Poppers With Smoked Pimento Cheese and Country Ham


Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Preparation Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Makes: About 20

Ingredients

Smoked Pimento Cheese:

  • 1/4 pound (113 grams) smoked sharp cheddar, very finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) smooth Dijon or German mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco, plus more to taste
  • 4 whole (42 grams) drained cherry peppers, chopped

Jalapeño Poppers:

  • 10 thin slices country ham or Prosciutto, cut in half (optional)
  • 3/4 pound (about 10 small) jalapeños
  • 1/4 cup finely crushed crackers¹ (gluten-free, if desired)
  • Additional Tabasco sauce, for serving

Instructions

Make Pimento Cheese:

In a small bowl, stir together cheddar through Tabasco until well-blended. Stir in chopped peppers until distributed and cheese mixture becomes an even orange hue. Cover and refrigerate for several hours (or up to several days) to allow flavors to meld.

Make Jalapeno Poppers:

Cook country ham slices in a dry skillet or griddle over medium heat until somewhat crisp, but pliable. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool (arrange in a single layer); set aside.

Arrange oven rack about 3” from broiler, and preheat broiler to high. Line a large, rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil; set aside. Cut jalapeños lengthwise through stem, and arrange cut-side down on prepared sheet pan. (If you want to serve peppers with stems attached, wrap the stems with tiny pieces of foil to prevent them from burning.) Place under broiler, and cook just until skin begins to blister and brown, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from oven, flip and broil until beginning to brown around edges, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Once cooled, scoop out and discard seeds. Stuff peppers with chilled pimento cheese mixture, making sure the filling is nearly level with top of the pepper. Place stuffed peppers on sheet pan. Broil until bubbly and browned in spots, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cracker crumbs; press lightly to help them adhere.

Plate and Serve:

To plate, arrange crisped country ham on a large platter. Place a hot popper on top of each slice, and serve hot with additional hot sauce on the side.

Notes

¹Ritz or Club crackers work really well here, but for those who avoid gluten I recommend using the Original Crackers from Glutino.